In a concerning development for Indian immigrants in the United States, there is growing apprehension over the substantial backlog in the EB-2 and EB-3 visa categories. With more than 1.1 million Indians eagerly awaiting their green cards, experts predict that the backlog may intensify in the year 2024.
As of October 1, 2023, the inventory of EB-2 and EB-3 adjustment of status applications from India is significantly high for fiscal year 2024 and beyond. This means that the number of available immigrant visas for these categories is not sufficient to meet the demand.
Reasons Behind Green Cards Backlog
There are a number of factors contributing to the backlog, including:
- The high number of Indian nationals waiting for green cards in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories.
- The annual limit of 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas, is insufficient to meet the demand.
- The country-wise limit of seven per cent for employment-based immigrant visas restricts the number of visas that can be issued to nationals from any one country.
EB-2 and EB-3 Categories Under Strain
The majority of Indian nationals stuck in the green card queue belong to the EB-2 and EB-3 categories, both of which are employment-based immigrant visa categories.
EB-2 is designed for individuals with exceptional abilities or advanced degrees in specific fields, while EB-3 necessitates at least a bachelor’s degree. As of now, the backlog in these categories is raising significant concerns.
USCIS’s Alert for Fiscal Year 2024
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued an alert regarding the high inventory of employment-based adjustment of status applications from Indian immigrants in the fiscal year 2024 (October 1, 2023 – September 30, 2024).
This has created a precarious situation for those waiting for their green cards.
Family-Based Visa Numbers Impacting Employment-Based Categories
USCIS reports that the resumption of normal operations post-COVID-19 has led to fewer unused family-based immigrant visa numbers, reducing the availability of employment-based immigrant visas for fiscal year 2024.
Once the unused family-based visa numbers are exhausted, it is expected that the annual number of available employment-based immigrant visas will revert to the standard limit of 140,000.
Measures to Address the Green Card Backlog
Experts are calling for a number of measures to address the backlog, including:
- Increasing the annual limit of employment-based immigrant visas.
- Relaxing the country-wise limit for employment-based immigrant visas.
- Issuing employment authorization cards (EADs) during the early stages of green card processing.
EADs would allow Indian nationals who are waiting for green cards to work legally in the United States. This would help to reduce the financial burden on them and their families.
The Indian diaspora body has also urged the Biden Administration to take action to address the backlog. The Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) has called for an increase in the annual limit of employment-based immigrant visas and for the relaxation of the rules for issuing EADs.
It is important to note that the USCIS is currently working to reduce the processing times for green card applications. However, it is likely that the backlog will continue to grow in the near future. Indian nationals who are waiting for green cards are advised to consult with an immigration attorney to discuss their options.